Thursday, January 19, 2017

Next Big Storm Threatens Severe Storm, Tornado Outbreak In Southeast

This house in Mississippi was destroyed by a likely
tornado this morning. The twister marks the start
of an expected several days of severe weather in the South 
At least one likely tornado touched down in Mississippi this morning, causing damage to several homes and businesses and toppling hundreds of trees.  

That, and the severe flooding that hit the Houston, Texas metro area yesterday, marks the start of what could be a very nasty severe storm outbreak in the Southeast over the next few days.

After a brief bout with winter weather early this month, the Southeast has been unusually warm and humid the past several days.

For instance, Thursday was the eighth consecutive day that Atlanta, Georgia has reached 70 degrees, the most consecutive days in January in at least 67 years. (Normal high temperatures this time of year in Atlanta are in the low 50s.)

The warm, humid air, interacting with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and relatively weak disturbances in the atmosphere, are contributing to today's rough weather in the Southeast.

It's very likely going to get worse.  Several days of severe weather look likely.


That strong storm that hit the West Coast over the past couple of days is going to trudge eastward and southeastward.

This storm will come through in pieces, with each package containing rising air, winds that veer with height and plenty of warmth and humidity. The first two initial pieces will go through the Southeast Friday and Saturday, each containing their own packages of heavy rain, severe thunderstorms and potential tornadoes

A third, more potent piece of atmospheric energy will pass through the Southeast Sunday and Monday, spinning up a storm system that will be unusually strong for one that far south. (Storm systems in the winter usually really crank up once they get up to the Midwest or Northeast, not the Deep South)

Of course, things are uncertain as always this far ahead of the Main Show, but the potential is there for some very bad storms, possibly some strong tornadoes in the Deep South, from Louisiana to Florida, and on up into Georgia and possibly the Carolinas.

This kind of thing sometimes happens in late February or March, but it's a bit unusual for January. But hey, it's a weird winter nationwide.

If there's a bright side to this scenario, it's that the storm will almost surely dump a LOT of rain on much of the Southeast. Huge sections of the region is still in a drought. (Remember the big wildfire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in late November and early December ) so a good slug of rain is always helpful.

Of course, some of the rain might turn out to be torrential causing some unwelcome flash floods. So there's a little good and potentially a lot of bad with this storm.

This big storm will eventually lift north and east toward New England early next week, but up here in the Northeast, including Vermont, the effects don't look so dire at this point. Too soon to tell precisely what will happen with this in our neck of the woods, but we're looking at the potential for some mixed precipitation, rain and maybe some gusty winds.


It also looks like this powerhouse storm will help trigger a pattern change that would bring more typical wintry weather to the eastern two thirds of the nation. The pattern change would also at least temporarily diminish much of the extreme storminess the West Coast has endured for the past month or two.

It has been quite a warm January in the East. I mentioned Atlanta, but here in Vermont, you know it's warm when there's scarcely any snow on the ground at the time of year that is normally the coldest of the entire winter.

Actually, this January in Vermont is so far warmer than last January, which was part of the warmest winter on record.

I don't know precisely how the upcoming weather pattern change will affect Vermont. But it's very likely the constant thawing will end.

Also,  we've got a shot at getting those periodic storms that would bring  frequent light to possibly moderate snowfalls to the Green Mountain State in very late January and the first half of February.

The ski resorts would certainly love that!

You never know, but so far the indications are that when this pattern change hits, it won't be a turn to extreme winter weather in the Northeast, but something that we're pretty used to in the North Country.

Time will tell.

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